to be fair, I think this less the case than it used to be. an a7 is essentially the same size as an x-e1 and, assuming you have the crop version of the voigtlander, the lens is a bit smaller/cheaper than the equivalent ff 35mm or 50mm with the same f/1.2 aperture (which does gain you some dof control).
i do think the fuji cameras are nicer to use for still photography for a whole host of reasons, but i think size/cost considerations kinda went away a couple years ago when everyone started making small mirrorless cameras.
The Fuji vs. Full Frame discussion often leaves out just how good the Fuji cameras, colors and lenses are. It’s not just a matter of sensor size, IMHO Fuji really does bring something extra to the photography experience.
The cameras are, generally, easy to hold and super comfortable to operate. It’s a ton of fun to have access to all pertinent controls on the top, just like the film cameras I learned on in high school.
As for the colors – I used to process RAW files in Capture One, then realized I rarely managed to get the colors looking better than they did straight out of camera. For me, anyway, the film simulations produce tremendous results. And once I moved to B&W, I found the Fuji simulations to be even better.
You can get good results with any camera, that’s true. But I think the film simulations on the Fuji cameras are a joy to use, especially if you’re not the kind of person who wants to spend a lot of time tweaking photos on your laptop.
As for lenses, I’ve tried wonderful native lenses on Sony, Nikon, and even Leica FF cameras, and I have to say that the Fuji lenses stack up against any of them favorably – especially the OG f1.4 lenses. Shot a Nokton 50mm 1.2 on a Leica M10 for 6 months, and found myself missing the Fuji 35mm 1.4. Now it’s my only digital camera.
A FF camera can be a lot of fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get similar results with a Fuji. And I actually love that it can’t do such a shallow DoF – forces me to focus on composing my photos to direct attention, rather than using DoF.
So I still use my Digilux 2 on occasion, but not too much since I picked up a Leica Q. Wow. It’s basically the same workflow as the Digilux 2 (manual focus ring, classic aperture ring and shutter speed dial), but with a full frame sensor, beautiful viewfinder, and extraordinary fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens. Just wow. It has a cool crop mode that crops the jpeg to either 35mm or 50mm, but of course keeps the raw file full frame. What’s cool about it is that it pulls up the 35mm and 50mm framelines inside the full 28mm view in the finder, just like a Leica M would do. And with the large aperture and full-frame sensor, you actually can crop quite a lot and still get nice depth-of-field effects, even though your shooting a 28mm lens. I’m absolutely in love with it.
The “best” camera is the one that best inspires the user to take photos—ones that they later feel positive and/or passionate about.
There are fringe cases where a particular aesthetics or technical capacity can only easily be achieved within one or two sensor-size-specific formats; extremely shallow depth of field in close-up shooting, perspective control of tilt-shift lenses for particular architectural styles, extreme low-light event photography, or astrophotography come to mind. But unless you’re primarily doing these, other factors matter more.
The camera needs to fit within a broader photographic workflow—one that is inspiring from start to finish for the photographer. For example, I’ve used Sony full-frame cameras some, but never got out-of-camera images that worked fine for the aesthetic I was going for without a lot of postprocessing and messing around with computer software settings. Do I want to commit to having to do that postproduction work to get the images I want? Some photographers will warm to that more than others. My partner hates messing about with the images in post; an inspiring camera is the one that, for them, captures the feeling immediately.
For me, Fuji color science and lenses typically get me exactly what I hope to capture—but they might not for everyone. I don’t routinely need to do any of the above 4 things where another system would be ideal (e.g., medium format for architecture, full frame for relatively compact/affordable wide aperture primes for super shallow depth of field, Sony or Nikon full-frames for low-light event photography, and I haven’t the foggiest what people do for astrophotography). If I did have a project that required it, I’d just rent the appropriate system for that week.
I’ve had to learn to ignore what some pro photographers call the “camera club” or “pixel peeper” discourse. The specs-chasers, with no defined photographic need or aesthetic style. To be clear, and so no one here feels called out, lines has been nearly free of this; it’s the camera forums that are near unusable.
There is no hiding that Fuji cameras are superb, but in my opinion, full-frame is a must if you plan to use adapted and/or vintage lenses. I have taken some nice photos with adapted lenses on crop sensor cameras, but there is nothing quite like the magic of an old lens functioning at its native field of view on a modern full-frame camera.
Olympus OM, Cannon FD, Fujinon M42 are my favorite brands/mounts right now, but there are several great options. Most vintage prime lenses with a max aperture of around f2 or faster will usually be outstanding. Just make sure the optics are clean.
I have said it before, and I will say it again – Ask everyone you know over the age of 50 if they have old film cameras or lenses. There are absolute gems sitting in attics and basements and people usually want to de-clutter.
Just for fun, here are some examples, all shot on a Lumix S5:
vintage lenses are fun and it’s hard to say which ones are best because there’s so many. all the suggestions above are great. there’s lots of gems in the 70’s and 80’s SLR lenses to find.
Contax-Yashica (CY) lenses were for a lens mount shared between the two manufacturers, but the lenses themselves are all Zeiss. there’s some really good options in that selection and the used prices have mostly stayed somewhat reasonable, just make sure you can find an adapter to your camera.
when possible, i also prefer using rangefinder lenses when possible on mirrorless, as the adapters are a lot smaller and it keeps the overall package a bit smaller, but the prices on these will be a bit higher. the minimum focusing distance on these is also a bit limited.
As a Fuji user that likes vintage lenses (mostly Pentax, a bit of Leica mount) you can cheat physics to a degree by getting a “lens turbo” or “speed booster” adapter that will bring the lens close to the original FOV. Optical elements, of course, so caveats related to image quality will apply.
speed boosters are very cool, but also expensive and (as far as I know) only adapt a single lens mount per product, so that cost can stack up unless you’re specifically adapting only EF lenses or something
These are great pictures, thanks for the advice too. I actually picked up an old Leica m3 for an absolute steal (caveat was an entire road trip to retrieve it and then waiting for a CLA), and it came with a 1961 elmar 50mm collabsible which I’m super excited to use. But, have been looking for a wider angle lens to use for street photography as well.
Some older Canon LTM’s have been recommended, I’ll have to see who else makes some screw mount stuff, as adapting these seems to be a lot cheaper than older bayonet mounts. Also seems like voigtlander has some nice modern, affordable options with a vintage vibe. Going to research it some more, thanks!
Side note, has anyone here heard of MS Optics? They’re lenses made by a single guy out of Japan, apparently build quality isn’t that great but they produce some beautiful pictures and are super compact. Was just wondering if anyone has any anecdotes. Seems like a peter blasser of lenses tbh…
FYI, if you get a speed booster for a lense mount with a short flange focal distance, it’s possible to stack passive adapters (metal tubes of the correct length with mounts) on them. Zhong yi optics/Mitakon do a speed booster for $99 (love it with my Pentax 50/1.2); I have a Sony version which I’ve had for about 8 years and works quite well. I also have (another brand) tilt and shift adapter which is fun, and a telescoping macro adapter. These type of adapters are part of what sold me on mirrorless.
I have the MS 50/1.1 and it is quirky but great.
I haven’t had an issue w/ the build quality but it can be tricky to nail focus if it isn’t set up correctly. There is a coma adjuster on the rear element so you can dial it in nicely. A photographer I used to work for gifted me an M8 about a decade ago that I use to make my coma adjustments before I use it on my film body.
I use a Canon FL 55 f1.2 with a metabones speed booster. I like it for black and white work… the coating is weird and Ive been told that the lens is (literally) radioactive. So I’m not sure I’d recommend it.
If I were to do the same thing now, though, I would buy the Oly 25mm f1.2 Pro. That lens is mind blogglingly good. They can be had for $750 used if you watch out for them. I have the 17mm Pro in the same line and it is the best lens I’ve ever used on any system… and I feel like the 25mm (50mm equiv) is better yet.
that’s good to know. i don’t know how universal this is, but early speed boosters did some have some optical optimization that relied on knowing what sort of lens mount to expect, so there may be some additional optical distortion involved in adapters on adapters.
25mm f1.2 Pro is my favourite lens of all time, it has a lot of the quality of an adapted vintage lens in terms of its contrast and colour rendition (with the feathered bokeh giving absolutely beautiful rendering of background foliage, points of light, anything you like) but with the bonus of modern autofocus, weather sealing, manual focus clutch and function button. For a couple of years I used nothing else on my EM1.3. I don’t have the 17mm but my impression is that the 17mm is sharper and is generally more highly rated in absolute terms, but I love that 25mm! “mind blogglingly” good is right!
Most of my photos are of my kids which I don’t share online, but here are a few examples of the rendering of this lens with busy backgrounds (all SOOC):